Training Philosophy

An extensive background in ballet served as a foundation for my understanding of biomechanics and gave me the ability to analyze movement at a very specific level. The transition from dance to climbing motivated me to learn about the ways in which movement fundamentals apply to other sports, and then how various aspects of sport-specific training can be applied to general fitness and to climbing. Ongoing studies of exercise research and theory shapes the way I approach fitness and has helped me to develop a dynamic training philosophy that is adaptable to people with varied goals and needs.


Old School vs. New School
Many people come into the gym and perform what I like to call their “high school football workout.” This typically consists of traditional weight training exercises, using machines and free weights, that isolate specific muscle groups. The common formula is 3 back-to-back sets of 10 reps per exercise. Although I don’t often write programs for clients that follow this exact formula, I do take aspects of a workout like this and incorporate them into a program. I believe that most forms of exercise have merit; what’s important to me is determining which elements from various training philosophies can be used together to create the perfect program for each individual.

Over the past few years, the concept of “functional training” has crept into fitness facilities everywhere, and has ultimately become a popular and effective way to approach physical fitness. Those fitballs, medballs, elastic bands and styrofoam rolls you may have seen in your gym are some of the tools used in functional training. The use of your body weight alone (like varieties of pull-ups and push-ups, sit-ups and balance exercises) is a form of functional training as well.

Basically, functional training refers to performing exercises that strengthen the body specifically for your sport or everyday life activities. Functional exercises often require the coordination and strength of several muscle groups at once, as opposed to isolating a single muscle group. The benefits of training this way include increased strength, balance and flexibility, improved joint stability, and fewer injuries, aches and pains. The beauty of functional training is that it can be adapted to meet the needs of anyone from children, to pro athletes, to older adults. Many people find this approach to exercise to be both empowering and inspiring, allowing them to take a creative, active roll in the continued development of their training, which ultimately makes it more stimulating and more effective.

Mixing It Up
The program: In my experience, the most effective (and most enjoyable) fitness program is a mix of traditional weight training, functional training, cardiovascular fitness and active stretching. Each of these elements of training provides its own benefits; the trick is finding the perfect balance of these to suit each individual client’s needs.
The exercises: It’s also a good idea to mix up the exercises within a program on a regular basis. The human body generally responds best to a dynamic plan that changes over time. Once you’ve had enough time to master your exercises and adapt to your overall program, it’s time to introduce some change. Keep your mind interested and your body challenged, and you’ll see a greater benefit from each exercise and overall faster results.

Making It Work
There are a few basic rules that I follow when working with any client:
1. Build a program that the client actually likes. Sounds simple, but it really is imperative that a person likes his/her overall program, as well as each workout. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t stick with it.
2. Address the client’s stated goals. Whether your goals are very specific or very general, your program needs to address them. I also recognize that a person’s goals may change over time, and that his/her training needs will change with those goals.
3. Don’t fall into a pattern. I don’t have a formula that I use for every client. I’m constantly seeking new training and fitness-related information, and I often workout with other athletes and trainers to keep my ideas fresh, interesting and effective. I don’t like getting bored with my own workouts, and I don’t expect my clients to either.
4. Do no harm. Last, but certainly not least, I never prescribe exercise without a full understanding of a client’s health & injury history. Because I work with people of all ages and abilities, I make every effort to learn about each person’s injuries, aches, pains, surgeries and medications, and coordinate my training recommendations with doctors and physical therapists as appropriate.


Functional Strength: As a climber of over 15 years, my focus has always been on specific movement and strength training. Over time I’ve experimented with various types of climbing-specific strength training for myself, then adapted it to the needs & abilities of many other climbers. I use body weight exercises, gymnastic rings, weight training, active stretching, fingerboard, campus wall and/or system wall as appropriate for an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Specific Technique: My biggest agenda with technique: target your weaknesses. This doesn’t mean you need to spend every climbing session pulling on slopers, but as the best climber is a well-rounded one, it does pay to work those weaknesses. A good and ongoing analysis of a climber’s technique enables me to prescribe specific exercises to improve his/her overall movement skills.